The findings: A Dr Pepper salesman typically has three minutes to greet, sell and possibly sign a deal with a store manager. Knowing that, the IT group set out to design a mobile analytics application that delivers accurate, current data about a specific store or product in a way that will grab the store manager's attention.
The pre-work of studying and planning will serve the company well, Farrah contends. He is piloting a custom application for Apple iPads that allows a salesman to conduct business all on one screen--no jumping to multiple screens or endless scrolling. Reports once rendered in many columns and rows are now graphical and tailored to particular customers or sales goals. "They can use more of the three minutes to sell rather than manipulate the tools," he says.
Similarly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a nonprofit religious group with 4.3 million members, is taking a measured approach to analytics, says Jon Beyer, head of IT.
After hiring consultants to inventory the church's digital, analog and paper archives in early 2012, Beyer is now developing a data management and analytics strategy. Now that he knows he has 250 terabytes of unstructured data, he wants to turn it into useful information.
For example, IT may catalog the thousands of hours of video shot at various church events, applying metadata tags that identify people in the scenes. From there, constituent outreach managers could find people who attend events frequently, cross-reference them with an existing CRM database and solicit them for donations, Beyer says. First, though, data cleansing has to be completed, eliminating duplicate entries and reconciling questionable entries. "We're Lutherans. People spell 'Andersen' all different ways, and we have thousands of them in our database," he says.
After a false start with CRM and analytics a few years ago, under a different IT leader, Beyer plans to catch up in the next 18 months. Generally, the reality of big data may be catching up with the hype. Survey results suggest IT leaders are more aware of such initiatives now after they failed to make big inroads last year.
Fifty-nine percent of the IT executives we surveyed classify their organization as a late adopter or laggard when it comes to big data projects, and just 13% have completed a major big data initiative in the past year. However, 37% expect to finish at least one within the next year.
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